PUNTA GORDA — A family seeking a cure for their children’s skin condition led to a brand new business — Amaro Soaps & Co.
Noel and Cindy Amaro, who own a farm off Bermont Road, have three children: Cristina, 16; Carolina, 15; and Ruben, 13.
The two youngest were prescribed medicated creams that only made matters worse and even led to scarring, said Cindy.
“Our father remembered how no one in his family in Cuba ever had a skin condition, “ said Cristina. “At the age of 5 he would make goats milk soap with his great-grandmother.”
Items such as soap were not available in stores in communist Cuba, so everything had to be made from scratch at home, she explained.
The process was grueling: “They would make soap in a tin can with goats milk and mix it with a wooden stick,” she said.
Stirring took hours for the goats milk to thicken before it could be poured into a wooden mold.
Deciding to buy their own goats and use their father’s family recipe, the teens soon mastered the art of making goats milk soap based on their great-grandparents’ recipe, but with some adjustments.
Carolina and Ruben’s skin soon cleared after using the soap. Hence, their business was born.
“We decided to manufacture the soaps to help others who have skin conditions and sensitivities,” said Cristina Amaro, who is in charge of marketing for their company and designs its website: www.amarosoaps.com.
“The skin is the largest organ in the body, and anything put on it is absorbed,” she said.
Owning four acres, the family had ample room for their house, a large barn, and a 2,500-square-foot warehouse, built by Noel and his son Ruben.
The teens use the warehouse to manufacture and ship their goats milk-based bath products, lotions and lip balm.
As for the goats, they spend part of the day in a very large barn where chickens roam in and out, and Carolina is in charge of milking them, which she does twice a day beginning at 5 a.m.
Unlike the way the teens’ ancestors in Cuba made goats milk soap, their jobs are made easier by having access to mixers, blenders and other technology.
The addition of a milking machine cut down Carolina’s time milking. In all, the teens own some 35 goats of various ages, both female and male.
Living the dream
“Our father dreamed of having a farm here to raise us kids and teach us where and how our food comes from,” said Cristina.
Cristina told the dramatic tale of her father’s harsh life in Cuba and how he escaped.
He worked on his family’s farm since he was a child, and by 12 he ran all 29 acres on his own, she said.
“He also made the soap when his grandparents were ill and his father was working.”
With no technological advancements or tools, he used his hands to milk the goats, and the bulls broke the dirt down for planting.
“His whole life was dreaming of coming to the United States to have liberty and live the American dream,” Cristina said.
At 19, Noel Amaro told his family he was escaping to freedom. He cut the roof off an ambulance, turned it over, and used it as a raft to come to Miami. The journey which he thought would take one day, lasted eight.
“He had no food or water,” Cristina said.
But he made it to Florida, where he met American-born Cindy, whose background is also Cuban.
“I’ve never worked for anyone; I’ve had 20 businesses and have always been self-employed,” she said.
In addition to running a real estate firm with her husband, she also oversees other ventures, such as Amaro Farm’s wholesale egg business.
The family has a tilapia and bass pond, fruit trees, a cow and pigs — the only thing so far they haven’t done is grow their own vegetables.
Cindy said the family mostly lives off the land.
“My father is going to make a vegetable garden next,” said Cristina.
All three Amaro children, who have been home-schooled for the past six years, are hard-working like their parents, and they exude happiness and pride.
“Our friends ask how Ruben is able to own things like his 4X4, and I tell them that he worked for them,” said Cristina.
Mother’s Day was approaching, and the teens were assembling gift packages to be sent to buyers far and wide.
“I want this business to be generational — one that we can pass down to our children and grandchildren,” said Cristina.